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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

CSPG Special Publications


Facts and Principles of World Petroleum Occurrence — Memoir 6, 1980
Pages 653-706
Worldwide Petroleum Provinces

Northwest European Basin: Geology and Hydrocarbon Provinces

P. A. Ziegler


The intracratonic Northwest European Basin covers an area of some 1.5 × 106 km2. Sediments range in age from Cambrian to Cenozoic and in many parts of the basin exceed a thickness of 8 km. The Northwest European Basin underwent a long and complex evolution during which it formed part of a number of genetically different basins. Some of these were stacked on top of each other while others were partly destroyed by subsequent events.

The Northwest European Basin contains five different hydrocarbon provinces that are distinguished by the age of their principal source and reservoir rocks, the style of the trap structures as well as their potential. Each hydrocarbon province is tied to distinct depositional and tectonic cycles.

1. The Baltic oil province is tied to Lower Paleozoic series that were deposited on the shelf now forming the foreland of the Caledonian Fold Belt. 2. Sediments contained in the Variscan foredeep have in themselves only a limited hydrocarbon potential but contain thick coal measures which represent an outstanding gas source rock. 3. The Permian gas province is tied to clastics and carbonates that were deposited in a post-Variscan collapse basin. Permian and Triassic reservoirs are charged with gas generated by the Carboniferous coal measures. 4. Hydrocarbons of the onshore oil provinces of Germany and the Netherlands are mainly derived from Lower Jurassic source rocks. These are preserved in rim synclines of salt domes in Schleswig-Holstein and the Gifhorn Trough but also in the Lower Saxony and West Netherlands basins. Laramide tectonics resulted in the inversion of these basins causing remigration and in part destruction of previously accumulated hydrocarbons. 5. The prolific oil and gas province of the Central and Northern North Sea is intricately related to the North Sea Rift that forms part of the Mesozoic North Atlantic Megarift System. Main source rocks are of Upper Jurassic age. Reservoirs range in age from Devonian to Lower Tertiary.

The West European parts of the Northwest European Basin contain ultimate technically recoverable reserves in established accumulations of some 4.2 × 109 m3 (26.4 × 109 barrels) of oil, and natural gas liquids (NGL) and about 5.4 × 1012m3 (200 trillion cubic feet) of gas.

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